Chigwell has been spelt many different ways throughout history. Some historians believe, though, that Chigwell means ‘King’s Well’, others believe that the ‘well’ part of the settlement may come from a Saxon word for ‘wood’. From the landscape that used to surround Chigwell, the latter meaning certainly seems plausible. You see, for much of history, Chigwell would have been a settlement nestled in a forest, some of these surroundings are still visible, of course, as Epping Forest. Although, some historians are still arguing that Chigwell could be the name of a Saxon person who ruled the area.
The manor of Chigwell has fallen into some very powerful hands over the years. Now, Chigwell was mentioned in the Domesday Book. During this time, William the Conqueror put the manor into the hands of Ralph de Limesei. When Edward the Confessor was the King, the manor was in the hands of Earl Harold. Records of the holders of the manor are very detailed. Of course, at some point, the manor changed hands for the last time, but not before the manor house was built. Now, we can’t be too sure who built Chigwell House, as the records are a little confusing.
Chigwell has an amazingly detailed set of records that date right back to the first mention of it in the Domesday Book. Sadly, though, all of these records are incredibly confusing for us mere mortals, and we’d need a historian on the staff to decipher them. Records of recent Chigwell are also a bit hazy. What isn’t hazy is just how important Chigwell has been in the growth of London over the years. In fact, even Charles Dickens took inspiration from Chigwell. Ye Olde King’s Head pub (now a Turkish restaurant) is believed to be the Maypole Inn in one of his books. So, the records of Chigwell are thorough, although a bit confusing. But it’s played a vital role in London life for over a thousand years!